In addition to filing a complaint over the way that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission awarded its call center contract to Accenture, IBM has now filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas, claiming that there was a conflict of interest as well.
The lawsuit follows a formal protest IBM filed with the commission earlier this month that touches on conflict-of-interest allegations the state is already investigating.
Gary Gumbert, the agency's chief information officer, worked for Accenture subcontractor Maximus before being hired by the commission in January 2004, according to the lawsuit.
IBM officials were concerned about Gumbert's affiliations but were assured he would not play a critical role in the contract process, the lawsuit states.
But IBM officials, in the lawsuit, allege Gumbert was overtly biased in favor of Accenture, and that he was receiving retirement payments from Maximus during the contract process.
In February, Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins asked for a review of the evaluation process.
"Obviously this is a contract that is very large in size and scope," Harris said Friday. "The commissioner does want someone not involved in the process itself to review the process and ensure there is public confidence in any decision we make."
The company in Colorado that designed their ill-fated computer program (CBMS) will ring a bell for those in HHSC in Texas -- it's EDS (Electronic Data Systems), which was the original contractor for the first phases of the TIERS system here in Texas (and has it's hands in other aspects of HHSC). Well now the Governor of Colorado wants a consulting firm to conduct an "independent review" of what went wrong with CBMS, and so whom does he choose? Deloitte & Touche...the same company that has the current TIERS contract in Texas.
Deloitte out to know a lot about computer systems that cost hundreds of millions and don't work worth a hoot in hell, because they designed the one we have in Texas. The only thing that has thus far prevented Texas from experiencing the same disaster as Colorado is the fact that the State of Texas has kept TIERS in a pilot phase for years beyond the date that the whole system was supposed to have been rolled out to the whole state. It is very curious how three corporations keep turning up with their fingers in the government pie: EDS, Deloitte, and Accenture.
Did I say waiting to happen? That wait may be over.
State officials are investigating whether current or former state employees profited from a nearly $1 billion Health and Human Services Commission contract to the Bermuda-based company Accenture.
In the past two years, the Health and Human Services Commission has embarked on a massive effort to consolidate the agencies under it and privatize many of the services it delivers to needy Texans. Accenture last month was tentatively awarded a contract to privatize the call centers where Texans apply for services like Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.
News of the investigation comes amid evidence of a "revolving door" involving at least two high-ranking state employees who had dealings with the privatization at Health and Human Services and have since left their state jobs to work for Accenture or one of its subcontractors.
Hazel Baylor, who until last year was the agency's deputy commissioner for planning, evaluation and project management, was later hired by Accenture to work on the state bid, Soh, of Accenture, said Wednesday.
Baylor could not be reached for comment.
Gregg Phillips, who was the No. 2 official at the state agency until last year and was a key figure in the plan to privatize many agency services, now does work for Deloitte Consulting in Dallas, which subcontracts for Accenture. He did not return a call left at his Dallas office.
May I suggest, by the way, that this may be part of the reason why this sort of thing happens?
According to Sarah Woelk, director of advisory opinions for the state Ethics Commission, it is a Class A misdemeanor for state employees who work on a particular matter to join a private firm that's working on the same matter, and they could face civil fines.